By Linda Barnard
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
The only downside to watching this lovely documentary about 85-year-old obsessive sushi-making visionary Jiro Ono is the inescapable craving for sushi that follows. As much a family saga as a visit to raw fish nirvana, this visual stunner has an unexpected and satisfying narrative. If you happen to be flying to Tokyo, Jiro is now 91 and still going strong at Sukiyabashi Jiro, where the omakase tasting menu costs about $333 (Cdn). My full Toronto Star review of Jiro Dreams of Sushi is here.
The Lunchbox (2013)
The mysteries of how India’s legions of lunch-box delivering dabbawallahs get daily meals to 200,000 Mumbai office workers causes the mix-up that brings a widower (Irrfan Khan) and an isolated young wife and mother (Nimrat Kaur) together. He’s mired in a rut as a long-time insurance company pencil pusher and she’s desperate to spark affection from her disinterested husband. She and the stranger gradually share confidences, disappointments and dreams via notes exchanged with the lunch boxes that she makes and he begins to look forward to each day. To find out more about the making of The Lunchbox, read my interview with Irrfan Khan.
Nova Scotia writer-director Ashley McKenzie’s quietly powerful, award-winning feature debut is a Canadian independent film you might not discover elsewhere and it’s definitely worth seeing. Her camera follows the bleak lives of young drug addicts Nessa and Blaise (Bhreagh MacNeil and Andrew Gillis, both excellent) as they work odd jobs, dragging a rusty lawnmower around in the hope they can pick up a few bucks. Frail Nessa has surprising emotional strength and vague dreams of something more, while Blaise wraps himself in a bitter sense of entitlement.
If you love the anthology TV series and never saw the original film, now’s your chance. Or maybe it’s been a while since you saw Fargo. It’s worth a return visit to the Coen Brothers’ 1996 dark comedic drama classic. An outstanding cast and a whip-smart script, plus there’s that wood-chipper scene. Fargo also gave us police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), who topped the Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ 10th anniversary Wonder Women Project list of cinema’s top 55 female fiction characters. My essay on why Marge is No. 1 is here.